Interpersonal Skills and Writing

Interpersonal skills and writing might seem like an oxymoron, but once the solitude of the writing process is over, the interaction begins. One of the publishing comic websites I frequent, Bitbookish.com, had a post that prompted some thoughts on networking and interpersonal skills in publishing.

How do you feel about interacting in the industry?

Publishing, as it has often been proclaimed, is the ‘marriage of art and commerce’. To have a love of books and work in the industry or the dream to write in ‘a room of one’s own’ is a great foundation, but the business side of writing is about networking, social media, conference pitching, and ultimately engaging with your market whether you are a writer, or any other industry professional.

If you are an introvert there are many ways have an active literary career. See a great blog post here about working in publishing. For writers there are great marketing and networking resources like Joanna Penn’s here. And networking perks for being an introvert author, a post that was circulating on Twitter last week.

Have fun engaging with others that have similar interests. A great place to start is Twitter or commenting on blogs then taking into the real world.

When it comes time to publicize and market your book at functions remember people are there to see you and engage with you, as you are an extension of your work. Field questions, and get feedback about what worked for your readers and put it towards your upcoming projects. Get to know your market as they are buying your book, thus who you are writing for.

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7 thoughts on “Interpersonal Skills and Writing

  1. I do think that’s something a lot of writers forget; that promoting one’s work and being social, both towards other writers and potential readers, is essential for becoming successful. If someone publishes a book and does nothing else, chances are, fewer people will see and purchase it than if they publish the novel and then promote it via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other such medias.
    I’ll admit to not having a Twitter, but I have been considering it for the first time this past week.

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    • Marketability is a huge part of being an author in today’s publishing landscape. Taking control of your brand in public sphere is part of your responsibility. It isn’t about shameless promotion via Twitter, but finding an audience for your work and creating new relationships. Natasha, if you are looking into Twitter a great author to follow to see how she interacts with her audience is @maureenjohnson – http://twitter.com/#!/maureenjohnson. Look at how she’s found her niche and invites them to her live book signings.

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      • Precisely. Writing a novel and getting it published is only one of the steps in being an author; socializing with readers is another large part of it.
        I will definitely look into her tweets. Would you recommend making a Twitter account to interact with readers on a level beyond blogging?

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      • I would recommend it only if it is something you feel strongly about. Doing because you ‘should’ isn’t enough. You need to keep your Twitter account active, much like a blog. It is a commitment so only do it if you feel strongly. If you do want to engage with Twitter it is a great to promote your blog posts and your writing as you gain like-minded followers.

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      • Thank you for your response. I’ve been looking into Twitter this past week and gathering opinions from various people to see what all can be done with Twitter and if it’s something for me. I’ll wait a while longer before I make a decision. Even if I choose not to make one now, there’s always the possibility to do so later.

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  2. Thanks for the link, and interesting post. I have been wondering lately whether people in publishing may be more understanding of introversion, since presumably the one thing we all have in common is a love of reading — which is, ordinarily, a pretty solitary activity! Anyone who spends a lot of time reading must have some introverted qualities. So even though you’re totally right that connecting with people is super important to keep up in the industry, I bet there is still some sort of ‘cushion’ where co-workers have a higher tolerance and appreciation of that sort of behaviour — more so than in other businesses, perhaps.

    Thoughts?

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    • I agree, Caleigh. It is a lovely solitary activity that bring us together. But publishing is a business and often the most successful publishing execs (sales, rights, marketing, publicity) and authors are the ones that can transition from independent work habits to outgoing personalities. However, the reclusive author that hides away (i.e. Harper Lee) can generate their own publicity around being reclusive! So I say: be true to who you are and work with the skills you have, but never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

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